Through participating in this year’s field school, not only are students getting hands-on experience, but we are also learning how to become advocates of archaeological research and practice. As students of archaeology, we have learned that to be an archaeologist requires you to wear many hats; not only must you be able to handle all of the physical labour, be diligent with your paperwork, and work as a team, but you must also be able to make all of this hard work and knowledge transparent and accessible to the public. One of the most important archaeological tools is the ability for students to be able to explain what it is they are doing, and why.

Kayleigh (R), today's author, and Sam (L) clean artifacts in the lab.

The Blumenhof site is often home to visitors; from local children stopping by to lend a hand, to family and friends, fellow students and academics, and the media. When visitors arrive, they are shown around the site, and it is up to the students to talk about the site and to answer their questions. Students are learning how to verbally interpret the site to the visitors and to the greater public, a task which can be quite fun and rewarding, especially when seeing the look of surprise on peoples’ faces when you tell them you are involved with an archaeological dig.

Talking to the media about the Unger site

Another way in which archaeology can be accessible to the public is through exhibits. Today we were given a tour of one of MHV’s newest exhibits about the Kleine Gemeinde/EMC. The exhibit contains many artefacts from previous Blumenhof excavations, and it was nice for this year’s field school participants to recognize the significance of the artefacts we are finding, and see the possibility that what we find may one day be put on display and used for educational purposes.

Interpreting the site to the public is an important part of what we are doing at the Blumenhof site (and this blog is a great way for us to do just that!) The success of any archaeological project requires multiple partnerships and community involvement. While the field school may only consist of 14 students, the true scope of involvement is much greater, incorporating two universities (U of W and U of M), the MHV and many more. Volunteering is another great way to get people involved. Beginning today and for the duration of the week, we have three hardworking students and their teacher from SRSS volunteering at the site, which is a great way to get the community involved and excited about our project and archaeology as a whole.

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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